Okay, maybe Microsoft is the Evil Empre, and Bill Gates is The Emperor (mind you, he’s an emperor who gives away billions to charities), but isn’t it time to give it a rest? The European Union is preparing to collect hundreds of millions from Microsoft (while letting the real pirates such as the freaking Oil Consortiums get away with murder).Real Networks is preparing to sue Microsoft for $1 billion because Microsoft engaged in practices that were anti-competitive…you know, like making a product that was cheaper, better, and just plain cooler than Real’s.

My MP3 player plays wma files, but it won’t play rm files. Why? Because Real charges a ludicrous amount for their codec. TSN.ca uses Windows Media for video because it’s cheaper than the per-stream charges that Real wants to charge…not to mention Microsoft has built some truly amazing encoding tools, while Real’s constantly buggy software makes encoding to Real a pain in the ass at the best of times.

Microsoft’s Windows Media Player, and Apple’s Quicktime player are elegant programs that don’t force users to install a half dozen other programs (like AOL Instant Messenger), they don’t force pop-ups on you when you try to close them.

Most importantly, it has taken Real about 7 years to build a media player that doesn’t constantly leak memory, cause unknown kernal errors, and generally just malfunction.

I gave up on Real with the G2 player in 2000, and I’ve refused to install it on my home PC since then. I use Quicktime almost religiously, I love Windows Media Player, but Real can bite me.

Newsflash for Real. Microsoft isn’t to blame for you being #3 in the market (when you used to be #1), you need look no further than your shoddy code, your ridiculous pricing structure, and your crappy customer service.